Zero waste design

Zero waste.

I have dabbled with it. Last year I made a whole collection for my RMIT design class based around the concept. Some people have made whole brands using it. There are people who have persisted and are amazing at it. Holly McQuillan for one. Julia Lumsden for another.

These fantastic minds create patterns that look like this:

And turn them into this:

Pretty amazing, huh?

Usually during production 15-30% of the fabric gets thrown away after the patterns are cut out of them.

That’s a lot of waste.

The zero waste method has… well, none.

So I thought about this and came up with a few designs based on squares for class. A singlet with frilled sleeves, a couple of skirts and capes.

Being the overachiever I am, I not only designed these, but also decided to create them. (It was a drawing class and there was no sewing supposed to be involved)

I did draw them in my completely non-fashion-drawing style:

And then I made them and ended up photographing one of the dresses later.

The material underneath the raglan sleeve has been folded into the pockets which makes them sit out. The inner pocket is a rectangle of a contrast fabric.

I made a black version as well:


The beautiful model is Lea Wearne who wonderfully put up with all my terribly unprofessional photography. I will put more of these shots up in due course.

The problem I found with my “zero waste” method is that for the above dress I needed 2m of fabric.

For a similar dress using the traditional method, even though it wastes fabric in the cutting phase, I only needed 1.6m.

I am sure that the more sophisticated designers have worked their way around this issue.

I, instead, have decided to go about the waste issue in a different way.

What is it?

More in this later…

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3 thoughts on “Zero waste design

  1. Hey Kat! That shirt is get out amazing – I wish they made one for the shirt-wearing-ladies in the office, it’s divine and principled!

    Love your dress to, so lovely!

    And this is quite funny but your post has made me realise that I inadvertently did some zero waste design myself – I made a circle skirt and turned what would have been the waste into a hat and vest… check out the results here: http://randomshitchez.blogspot.com/2011/02/pinata-goes-bang.html 😛

    • I love yours! So clever! And I love these shirts too! I’ve got a couple in the pipe line for next collection, but nothing compared to the zero waste pattern here. My brain hurts thinking about it. Seam allowances!? Gah!

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